Intended to extend the economic
benefit from fisheries to a wider section of the population in future, national
authorities in Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde already are seeing
positive early results from tougher protection and various other measures
adopted under a five year World Bank-backed regional programme to establish
sustainable fisheries management systems in a number of important West African
marine fishery nations.
is seriously impacted by illegal fishing with fish worth an estimated US$100
million being taken illegally from territorial waters across the region each
year. In addition to illegal fishing, many West African countries lack the
necessary fishing port infrastructure to allow industrial scale fishing vessels
to land their catch.
This situation is holding back
the development of fish processing and other downstream activities that would
increase the value of fisheries to the region’s national economies.
Backed by soft loans and grant
aid worth around US$56 million in total, the West Africa
fisheries management programme is being implemented in two phases. To increase
its effectiveness, the scheme also is designed to act as a model for
sustainable fisheries development in other neighbouring countries.
Sustainable fisheries rely on
robust management to tackle illegal fishing and control access to fishery
resources. With this in mind, project consultants have assisted fishery
authorities in the four participating countries strengthen their national
fisheries governance as part of the first phase of the programme.
The results already have been dramatic - the fight against illegal fishing
being particularly successful in countries suffering the most from illegal
Improved detection of illegal
fishing has been assisted by increased radar and satellite-based fishing vessel
monitoring by all four countries, compared with only Senegal
In addition, a greater number of
marine patrols is enabling national fishing authorities to catch more illegal
vessels that their new vessel monitoring systems now are detecting.
example, has reported an 83% reduction in illegal fishing. In addition a number
of fraudulent licenses have been discovered by fishery officials, worth more
than annual revenues collected from official fishing licenses, the World Bank
recently reported, revealing a pattern of fraud that operated in the past.
An idea of the value of lost
fishery resources from illegal fishing can be seen from the case of the South
Korean-owned, Sierra Leone-licensed Nine
Star fishing boat which Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture arrested for illegal
fishing in the third quarter of 2013.
The ministry later officially
reported that it had auctioned the illegal catch for US$216,000, and in a
warning to other illegal operators, the ministry fined the Nine Star’s owners $1 million for illegal fishing in Liberian
Tackling illegal inshore fishing
benefits local fishing communities in addition to reducing lost government
Leone and Liberia,
successful efforts to remove illegal trawlers from a three mile inner zone in
coastal waters have cleared space for artisanal fishermen in local fishing
villages to exploit. In Sierra
Leone, some fishing villages have reported
increases in catch of up to 42% in fishing grounds where illegal vessels
fishing industry also is benefiting from government measures to strengthen
sustainable fisheries management and fight illegal fishing which have included
setting up a marine fisheries observer programme.
The efforts are important as the
European Union in a recent assessment has commended Cape
Verde’s effort to tackle illegal fishing,
which is a condition for the country to be permitted to export fishery products
to the EU.
Measures to strengthen sustainable fisheries management and fight illegal
fishing already have increased government revenues in some West African
Leone, for example, improved governance in the
fisheries administration has resulted in official revenues from the fisheries
sector increasing to US$3.8 million in 2013, more than four times the $900,000
recorded in 2008.
the introduction of community-led fisheries management systems has been
successful in restoring depleted fishery resources; some fishing villages have
reported more than doubling their fisheries catch as a result.
Meanwhile, a number Territorial
Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs) have been established in all four countries to act
as a model for establishing other community-led fishery management systems in
The number of communities or
villages that are members of a TURF varies in each country and area. In
addition, involving two or more communities in a single TURF requires a
Co-Management Association (CMA) to be established to represent all member
communities in running the fishery.
Sierra Leone, for example, has legally
registered 15 TURFS as CMAs, while in Senegal
12 communities are members of eight TURFs, all being registered as CMAs.
Meanwhile, tracking the impact of
improved management measures on fishery resources as part of the West Africa
regional fisheries scheme includes monitoring two selected over-exploited
fisheries in each of the four countries.
Although it is still early to
document signs of recovery with certainty, coastal shrimp numbers in Senegal
and Sierra Leone already
are reported to be showing signs of recovery along with spiny lobster in Cape
Among other developments attributable to the regional fisheries programme,
Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde have almost all achieved 100%
registration rates for their artisanal fishing fleets.
Cape Verde, for example, has piloted an
incentive-based registration scheme which is now considered as best practice in
Although dramatic improvements
already are being reported, the West Africa
fisheries programme target of establishing sustainable management systems has
still to be achieved and is the current focus of efforts as the World
Bank-backed scheme draws to a close.
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cape
Verde still have to finalise and roll out their sustainable fisheries policy
reforms which are due to include secured long term fishing rights for coastal
the bank’s project team reported, the country’s new revised fisheries law has
integrated a rights-based approach to coastal fisheries, while in Cape
Verde the fisheries law recently has been
revised but still requires fisheries management plans to be completed.
revision of the legal framework is nearing completion, while in Sierra
Leone a rights-based approach to community
fishing has been approved in principle and is being integrated into the fishery
fact, already has implemented a robust management system for industrial scale
fishing, having reduced the number of large fishing vessels operating in the
country’s waters from 117 in 2005 to 2012 vessels in 2012 by operating a
fishing boat buy-back scheme to reduce overfishing.
The buy-back scheme’s success is
evident as some fishing boat owners are reported to have rejected government
buy-back offers as fishing recently has become more profitable due to fewer
large fishing vessels being in operation.
Meanwhile, in a new development,
fishing authority’s focus is switching to managing the nation’s fast growing
artisanal fishing fleet.
From 13,000 canoes in 2009, the
number of officially registered fishing canoes has grown to around 21,000 at
present as more coastal communities look to marine fisheries to improve their
Meanwhile, new infrastructure facilities are under construction in West
Africa to support fisheries development by providing fishing
harbour and storage facilities capable of handling large fishing vessels.
for example, construction has started at Robertsport on Mesurado Pier which
will be designed to handle large fishing vessels.
Elsewhere, in Sierra
Leone, construction has started in Konakreedee on modern
fish harbour facilities, while in Cape Verde
construction is well underway on a cold storage facility on Sal
Island to hold fishery
products prior to export.
Meanwhile, a recent study funded
by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has
estimated the value added by the fisheries sector as a whole to all African
countries in 2011 as US$24 billion or 1.26% the continent’s entire combined
Due to be published shortly, the
study ‘The value of African fisheries’ was carried out in the framework of the
New Partnership for Africa’s Development NEPAD-FAO Fisheries Programme with the
aim of estimating the contribution of fisheries to African nation’s GDPs and
the employment generated by the whole fisheries sector including fishing,
processing, licensing of local fleets, and aquaculture.
Total industrial scale marine
fisheries including fishing, processing and licenses were worth $6.8 billion in
2011, the study revealed, while total artisanal marine fisheries including
fishing, processing and licensing were worth $8.1 billion annually.
Although aquaculture is still
developing in Africa and is concentrated
mostly in a few countries, it is worth $2.8 billion a year already, the study
Total inland fisheries, including
fishing, processing and licenses, were worth $6.3 billion in total for all
In addition to the estimated
value added of $24 billion in 2011, the FAO conservatively estimates that
African countries received around $400 million in fishing licensing fees from
foreign companies for fishing rights in their exclusive economic zones.
The FAO points out that with 25%
of all marine catches around Africa’s lengthy
coastline being landed by non-African fishing vessels, the potential value
added to local economies could be far higher than the $400 million received in
fishing license fees if African fishing fleets also accounted for this portion
of the continent’s total marine catch.
Morocco is Africa’s
largest marine capture fisheries nation with a total marine catch of 1.16
million metric tons (mt) in 2012, up 22% compared with the previous year,
ranking the country 18th in the world for marine capture fisheries.
Africa still lags behind the rest
of the world in marine fishing boat technology with about 64% of marine fishing
vessels used in Africa being non-motorised in 2012, according to the study,
compared with a world average of 30% and the same average of 30% for fishing
boats used in Asia.
Inland fisheries, meanwhile, are important in Africa
where 2.7 million mt or one third of the continent’s total wild capture
fisheries comes from inland waters.
Uganda is Africa’s
largest inland fisheries producer recording a catch of 408,000 mt in 2012 and
ranking sixth in the world.
Nigeria is the second largest producer with a
catch of 312,000 mt in 2012, followed by Egypt
with 240,000 mt and Democratic
Republic of the Congo with 214,000 mt.
Aquaculture also offers important
growth potential. Egypt
is the continent’s largest producer with total production of 1.02 million mt in
2012, all fin fish reared inland using mainly saline water. Aquaculture
production recently has grown quickly in West Africa
where some 455,000 mt of farmed fish were produced in 2012.
Fishing and fisheries-related
activities are important sources of employment in Africa
and job opportunities could grow in countries where important fisheries
resources remain undeveloped.
The study estimates that the fisheries sector as a whole employs 12.3 million
people as full-time fishermen or full and part-time processors, representing
2.1% of Africa’s population aged between 15
and 64 years old.
Fishers represent half of all
people employed in fisheries while 42.4% are processors and 7.5% work in
Women account for about 27.3% of
all people employed in fisheries-related activities, representing 58% of those
working as processors. Women, however, represent just 3.6% of fishers and 4% of
those working in aquaculture.
In terms of regional employment
trends, the study found that a high percentage of those employed in processing
live in western and southern Africa, while in
East African countries the number of fishermen often exceeds that of
Nigeria is ranked first in Africa with two
million people employed in fisheries and aquaculture followed by Morocco
with almost 1.4 million people and Uganda
with 1 million.
However, in terms of fishers, Morocco
is ranked first with 870,000 fishers, followed by Nigeria
with 790,000 and Uganda
470,000 and Mali
Nigeria has the most processors, with over one
million people employed in fisheries processing, followed by Morocco
with slightly over 500,000, then Uganda
420,000 and Ghana
Aquaculture, as noted already, is
more developed in North Africa where Egypt
has 580,000 people working on fish farms, followed by West Africa where 135,000
people are employed in aquaculture and Ghana